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BlackRock’s Kapito says technology can mitigate savings crisis

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Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, a problem underscored by a new BlackRock survey. But investors said new technology could help them be more involved in saving.

Nearly half of the US respondents in the asset management giant’s annual global investor survey said they haven’t started to save for retirement, and more than half said they’re not confident that they’ll achieve their “ideal” retirement. Investors felt too focused on their current financial situation to plan for the future, citing high costs of living, including housing and healthcare, as barriers to saving.

“The reason it’s become even more important is because people are living longer,” BlackRock co-founder and president Rob Kapito said in an interview with Business Insider. “They haven’t saved or invested enough to be able to retire in dignity the last 10-15 years of their life.”

Kapito told Business Insider that technology can help address the lack of saving. For Americans who have started investing, 70% said new technology would help them be more involved in their investments.

Read more: BlackRock now has a higher percentage of technologists than JPMorgan, and it says a lot about the future of the money-management industry

BlackRock is betting on technology as a growth-driver and has made a number of big investments to address investors’ needs.

In 2015, the $6 trillion firm introduced iRetire, a platform drawing on BlackRock technology. It allows financial advisors to show their clients how their current savings translate to income in retirement. The advisor can use that information to design an appropriate portfolio and help clients understand how their choices, including retirement age, affect their future income.

To distribute BlackRock products to more financial advisors, in November, the firm bought a stake in wealth management platform Envestnet, which had already offered iRetire, for $123 million.

The retirement crisis is often more acute for Americans without the means to access professional guidance.

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“There are various investments we make as a company for technology for people who can’t necessarily go to a financial advisor,” Kapito said. Companies like Acorns, an app that invests users’ spare cash, are “popping up all over the place.”

Last month, BlackRock took part in Acorns’ $105 million Series E round, along with NBCUniversal, Comcast Ventures and private equity firms DST and MSD Capital, which manages Michael Dell’s personal money, and other groups.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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